Friday, June 28, 2013
After a good nights’ sleep and a quick breakfast we were on the road again. Our destination was Fairfield Virginia and a short visit with long time friends who have recently relocated there. We started out driving south on I 64 with plans for a short stop at the New River Visitor Center for a National Park Stamp.
We looked around the Tamarack Center – a WV craft center – interesting building but that is about it.
We were both watching for the signage for the Visitor Center since it was not noted on our map.
Finally we put it in the GPS and were directed to exit at an upcoming exit. This was the start of a 90 minute adventure on the back roads of WV! Review of maps conflicted with the GPS but we journeyed on certain we would soon come to the river. We passed through very small towns, going up and down mountains on very curvy roads – about as bad as they can be with “hairpin” curves. When we went up the rhododendron was blooming and quite pretty. When we went down there would be small towns – in various levels of repair. We had little choice but to continue…. until we came to the New River – AT RIVER LEVEL. There was an old bridge crossing the river but – the state had installed a bar across the road at the entry to the bridge – the sign said clearance 9 feet.
When we had the air conditioner installed on the Sprinter this past winter, it increased the height significantly – we think around 10 feet but we are not 100% sure. Oh no – will we have to retrace our journey!? A man working nearby talked with Ben. The guy must have had this situation before…he said “Oh, I think you can make it – the clearance over near your side of the bridge is 10 feet or more – I will watch and let you know if it is too close”. We started and he said we had about 8 inches of clearance…so we drove slowly across hoping the other side was the same height! The river was probably 6 feet or so below the level of the bridge.
We made it and continued on with much the same terrain as we climbed back out of the river valley. We passed by Prince WV (very small) which had what seemed to be a functioning train station. There were abandoned coal mines and other support functions in several areas.
Finally we came to a larger road and found it on the map…in about 15 minutes we ended up back in Beckley WV – some miles before we began looking for the New River Visitor Center earlier! We had driven in a circle. In Beckley we stopped at a Sheetz and ordered lunch before traveling through Beckley and getting back on I 64 to try it again.
This time we saw the sign – there were the signs we had seen and one that we had missed – the one telling you to exit! The visitor center was small and constructed on the site of an elementary school that was no longer used. From this visitor center you could not even see the New River. The displays were primarily related to ecology. I got the National Park Passport Stamps but this visitor center is certainly an example of a “pork” project of WV Senator Byrd! When we were leaving the center to return to I 64 we saw the road we had traveled on earlier – bet if we had gone the opposite way from what we did when we left I 64 the first time we might have ended up at the Visitor Center! Oh well it was an interesting experience.
We continued on across WV and entered VA. The mountains and farmland as we neared I 81 were beautiful.
At I 81 we drove a few miles north to Fairfield which is a little north of Lexington and arrived at our friends home. They had purchased the model home in a new small development of about 15 homes. This was a great location for them; near their children who live in Lexington about 12 miles to the south. The home was perfect for them.
We spent the late afternoon enjoying visiting and experiencing nature at its best! There is a lovely small pond behind their home. There were beautiful water lilies blooming while the sun was shining.
There were many brightly colored red-wing blackbirds living in the cat tails around the pond edges. My photos do not do the area justice. I dropped my camera back in Uniontown and have only my i-phone which can zoom but not like my camera. The mountains in the distance were a beautiful back drop to the pond.
Then after dinner suddenly the barn swallows came – hundreds of them. They would zoom by and swoop down to gobble up some sort of insects from the pond. Then after about an hour – they were gone as quickly as they came. Next came the fireflies – and they appeared as twinkling Christmas lights in the trees below the pond. It was an absolutely magical sight. We also experienced a concert by a bull frog. Visiting with good friends in such a wonderful setting was a great end to our fun week of exploring.